Millions of people may be denied home Covid tests if they cannot prove their identity with a credit check.
When ordering a home coronavirus test on the government website, people with little to no credit history are told they must go to a physical test site instead.
There may be up to 5.8 million people in the UK with little to no credit history, according to research by credit report company Experian.
This was the case for Anglia Ruskin University student Paulina Šimkutė, who said she was told she would have to travel to a Covid test site, since her identity could not be verified by the government website.
Pauline, a first year psychology student who recently moved to the UK, said: “They could not confirm my identity somehow, even though I’ve applied for settled status and a student loan through the government.”
She said she tried applying seven more times, but eventually called the helpline, though it took her all day to get through to someone.
Pauline said the advisor she eventually spoke to insisted she travel to the test site, even though she did not have a car or bicycle.
It would take Paulina, who lives in halls, half an hour to walk each way, while suffering from a temperature, cough, and lung pain.
“What are people supposed to do if they do not have a car or the ability to travel?” she said.
Eventually the advisor was able to override the system and book a home test for the student, but she was unable to register the test once she received it, and had to call again.
Paulina, who said she still has not received her results after six days, said the government needed to change the system to allow people like her to be tested at home more easily.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it used credit reference agency TransUnion to reduce fraud and prevent multiple test kits being ordered, reported the BBC.
TransUnion said people may be refused for a “number of reasons”, but did not specify further.
Students who have not built up a credit history and recent immigrants are unlikely to pass a credit check, even if they have bills in their name, a UK bank account, student loans, or a settled status application, like Paulina.
Young people in rented accommodation are also more likely to not pass a credit check.
The DHSC added: “Tests can also be booked by calling 119 and people can access testing and in-person testing sites, where a member of staff will confirm their identity in person.”